‘We are seeing much more community spread’

County sets new case high for third straight week

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For the third straight week, Person County has set county-level highs for new lab-confirmed positive cases.
As of Tuesday afternoon, county Health Director Janet Clayton said the county’s current total is 670 lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 cases – an increase of 68 new cases since the county’s last full update, released Thursday, Oct. 22.
The new cases follow 66 and 47 new cases the previous weeks.
“We are seeing much more community spread,” Clayton said. “Since we have moved through the reopening phases, we are seeing increases in cases because we are seeing a large increase of mass gatherings.”
Clayton said sources of the increase could be weddings, funerals, traveling sports teams and churches, among other gatherings. Coronavirus has also made itself felt in county schools with a cluster of cases identified at Helena Elementary School Monday.
“The community needs to remain vigilant about social distancing, wearing your face covering and washing your hands,” she said. “If they attend gatherings, the community needs to take those same precautions when they are at the gathering.”
According to the most recent full update, there were 108 active cases, the first time the county has passed the century mark.
Of those, 105 people were being monitored at home and three were hospitalized.
Another death reported in the last update took the county’s death toll to 11 and marked the fifth death in four weeks. Clayton said all of the county’s COVID-19-related deaths have had underlying health conditions.
“I think the more deaths we have it is naturally more concerning,” Clayton said. “The rapid increase in cases is just as concerning.”
Clayton did not have a specific number of active cases Tuesday afternoon, but said she expects the number of active cases to remain over 100.
In the Oct. 22 update, the county’s percentage of tests returning positive rose for the third consecutive week, this time to 4.78 percent – the highest that number has been.
Clayton noted that percent positive only reflects the total percent positive since March and some weeks have seen higher rates.
According to the metrics from the Oct. 22 update, 10.3 percent of tests returned positive that week as 636 tests were administered to county residents and 66 were confirmed to be positive.
“I look for the percent positive for the week to remain high as we are continuing to see a high number of cases,” she said.
Clayton said the county has hired one contact tracer and is looking to hire another and has been utilizing state tracers that are assigned through a database.

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